Flags symbolize a nation or country and can be inspirational in design. The official flag of the Crow Tribal Nation is a fine example. Apsaalooke-iiwah-ehkuua, means Apsaalooke (Crow) Ways of Knowing. Apsaalooke-Ishbaapaaxe means Crow Tribal Flag. The Apsaalooke flag has a sky blue background with the official Tribal seal in the center. The flag bears much symbolism and reveals a proud history.
At the bottom of the seal is an image of a sacred pipe, to represent Iipchee, or the Pipe Ceremony. Crow elders said that the sacred pipe was revered because it belonged to the Sun. Pipe stems were decorated with a fan of eagle feathers and the bowl was made of red stone and also served as a peace-pipe. The holders of the sacred pipe were bestowed distinction and good luck. One of the most outstanding uses of the sacred pipe was for the adoption ceremony.
Just above the sacred pipe is an image that represents Ihchihchiaee/Baasshussua, or a Tobacco Medicine Bundle, or Sacred Tobacco Society. This bundle contains Sacred Tobacco seeds. The ancient species of Sacred Tobacco was considered holy because the seeds were gifted to Chief No Vitals around the turn of the 17th century. Eventually, the vision of Chief No Vitals directed them to the location of the Sacred Tobacco plant in the foothills of the Big Horn Mountains, today’s Crow Country. Part of Chief No Vitals vision was that by practicing the Sacred Tobacco Ceremony the Crow People would multiply and grow strong.
Above the Sacred Tobacco Bundle on the flag is the image of an Alawussua, or Sweat Lodge. The spiritual Tradition of purification of mind and body is a necessity of a healthy life and is done in honor of the Creator. In the center of the flag/seal is a large white Ashtaale, or teepee. This represents Chichiaxxaawauua, or Crow Fair, a time of cultural celebration when the mighty Crow Nation plays host to the world.
A war bonnet is seen along either side of the Ashtaale/Teepee. On the left side the war bonnet represents Aasahke, or Paternal Clan Membership. On the right side the war bonnet represents Alaxpe-maashe, or Maternal Clan Membership. Both sides of the family represent family bonds of love, protection, inspiration, and guidance.
At the top of the flag, towards the horizon just behind the Ashtaale/Teepee sit a set of sacred mountain ranges; in the middle sits Iisaxpuatahchee, or Big Horn Mountains, to the left the Cheetiish, or Wolf Mountains, and to the right Baahpuuo Isawaxaawuua, or Pryor Mountains. The Iisaxpuatahchee-aashisee Aliakaate, or Little Big Horn River is seen running down the left side of the mountain range and Iisaxpuatacheeaashishee, or Big Horn River runs down the right side of the mountain range.
The Sun and its magnificent rays are seen at the top of the flag. The rays of the Sun represent the Ashaammaliaxxiia, or Apsaalooke Clan System. Crow clans are matrilineal. The meaning for clan in our language refers to how driftwood gathers or lodges in certain areas along the rivers. As our clans gather and preserve our ancestors Ways of Knowing our flag waves in the air as a proud reminder of Chief No Vital's words and vision.